Beauty is in the eye of the beholder….?

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I came across this photo the other day:

At first I was like “You go girl!”

But now? Yeah. Not so much.

What’s that, you say? I’m being a hypocrite? After all, Karen, you’ve been everything from a size 12 to a size 24. You should embrace your curves, love your body. Let’s empower the fat girls.

I can call them fat girls because I’m one of them. You skinny bitches? Unless you’ve ever bought and worn queen-sized pantyhose, shut up. You can’t call us fat girls. Only fat girls can call us fat girls.

Yup. I’m one of them, but I’m not sure I see this photo as empowering. At first I did. I thought, “Wow, good for you, chubby girl! Posing naked with a sign takes a lot of courage. I sure as hell wouldn’t do it.”  And, I do agree with the whole perception of beauty thing – really, is a size 2 that beautiful? Bony yes. Unhealthy, most of the time. (I’m sure there are some size 2 women out there who complain about needing to gain weight. To them I say, “Here ya go! Have some of mine!”)

Yes, this picture does raise a good point in making society question their perceptions of beauty. Beauty shouldn’t have a prescribed size. All women should be seen as beautiful, because true beauty comes from within, and isn’t based on your dress size. Trust me: I’ve met some damn ugly size 2s before.

So, what’s the big deal, you ask. The big deal is that being a plus-sized woman isn’t healthy. Carrying around extra weight has SO many health implications. High blood pressure. High cholesterol. Diabetes. Osteoarthritis. Coronary Heart Disease. Gallstones. Stroke. Liver Disease. Breast Cancer. Colon Cancer. Sleep Apnea. Mental Health issues.  Don’t believe me? Believe the Centres for Disease Control.

I’m sorry. That ain’t beautiful. Diseases, especially preventable ones, are ugly. I’m not saying that a plus-sized woman can’t be beautiful. What I am saying is that her beauty should not be based on her body size, but on what’s inside her.

But wait: if she’s fat, then what’s inside her is the potential for a lot of ugly diseases.

You know what’s beautiful? Wanna know what’s sexy as hell?

Being healthy. That is glorious.

And that’s why I’m doing this. I am not on this journey to  drop down to a svelte size 2 and suddenly be gorgeous. I am on this journey to be healthy and happy.

As I was researching this post, it hit me: I’ve already been affected by one of the diseases listed on the CDC site. I have osteoarthritis. I’m thirty-friggin-nine years old and I have arthritis. So far, my life hasn’t been too negatively impacted by this disease. So far. But if I don’t take control of my health, it will be.

Every so often, I’ll see people in wheelchairs or scooters that are morbidly obese. I try my best to feel compassion for them and not judge them. In fact, I do feel sorry for them – they cannot be comfortable in the state they are in. I can’t help but wonder, “Which came first? The weight or the mobility issues?” I’m sure it’s different in every case. But I do know that the less you move, the less mobile you become, and the easier it is to gain the weight. I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to run into my 40s, not drag my ass into them!

So, here I sit, a plus-sized girl, struggling with her own body-image issues, questioning society’s perception of beauty, cursing at Hollywood for the hyper-sexualization of sticks with boobs, unhappy with my silhouette, and, honestly, feeling a bit stuck in my journey. Personally, I don’t see a size 22 as beautiful. I see beauty in the person’s soul, the way they treat others, the way they treat themselves.

Truth be told, I struggle with feelings of beauty.

About two months ago, I had a man tell me I was beautiful. When recounting this to my dear friend J., I told her, “That was the first time a man has ever called me beautiful.” She was astonished! She didn’t believe me. I told her, that with the exception of my father (and I honestly can’t remember him saying something like that – not because he doesn’t feel that way, he’s just a man of few words), I had never had a man tell me I was beautiful before.

And sure, it felt fantastic to hear. The important thing was that I was actually able to hear it. I was able to hear it because I first believed it about myself. Yes, I struggle with self-concept and body image (show me a woman who doesn’t!!). But that night, when this incredibly handsome man told me that I was beautiful, I actually believed him because I was able to see the beauty within me.

My beauty has nothing to do with my dress size. It is not going to increase as my dress size decreases. No, my beauty has everything to do with who I am, inside. And who I am is a woman who loves herself enough to take care of her physical, spiritual, and emotion self. That is what beauty is. Not a dress size.

And I guess that’s it: that’s why I had such an issue with this picture. I don’t care if you’re a size 22 a size 2: if you’re not truly taking care of yourself, truly loving and respecting who you are, you’re not beautiful.

Funny thing is: lately, I haven’t been feeling all that beautiful. And I know why: it’s because I haven’t been taking care of my physical self. I’m still struggling to find a balance in the realm of self-care. When one area needs more attention than others, something suffers. Lately, I’ve been dealing with some pretty personal issues, and focusing my energy in the spiritual and emotional realms. The physical care then suffers, which makes me feel worse emotionally.

I need to make physical self-care an essential part of my day. I can’t just tend to it when a problem arises. That’s how I ended up with Osteoarthritis.  I don’t want to add to my health concerns from that list from the CDC. Time to make my physical health a priority.

Because being healthy is beautiful!

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